Oct 29, 2012

MLLA-51 roundup, two accidents and a pumpkin story

In the past, I have promised to post event roundup on time and in most cases I have managed to do it too. So forgive me if I am a bit tardy in posting the round-up for MLLA-51. It has been a stressful month to say the least. First the kid was down with strep throat and missed four days of school. The next week I was down after catching his germs (isn’t that what moms are for?)

The week after that, the husband was in a T-bone accident. For the uninitiated, a T-bone accident is one where one car hits the other at a right angle, just like a T. So, if you are going straight on a road, minding your own business, following the speed limit and keeping a safe distance between the cars in front of you, you can still get hit from the side. It is especially brutal because you are caught off guard. If you have never been in a T-bone accident, I hope you never have to find out what it is. Fortunately, he was not hurt in any way. The impact was behind the passenger side door, right above the rear wheel.
Those white curtain are the air bags that deployed on the passenger side

As if one accident was not enough to last a lifetime, exactly eight days later, he got into another one. Yeah! What are the chances of getting hit from behind while at a red light, a week after getting T-boned? I am guessing very slim. But that is what happened to him.

At the end of it it was a seven car pile-up in two lanes all because the lady who caused it was in a hurry to be somewhere. She hit a car which hit the car in front of her which hit the truck behind the rental car he was driving. Meanwhile, the lady who hit the first car tried to veer from the accident and ended up hitting another car in the other lane which bumped into the car in front of it.  If it sounds confusing, just imagine four cars bumping into each other in one lane and two cars crashing into each other in the next lane because of a lady driving to somewhere in a hurry.

So, I am hoping you will forgive me for posting the roundup so late. There weren’t a lot of entrees this time and Susan attributed it to the long run of the event. She is thinking of retiring the event but I hope she doesn’t. I like legumes and it is good way to learn about all the diverse varieties and methods of cooking them.

For some reason, I am not able to upload the photos you sent me. I will try again in the evening adn see if they will upload. Meanwhile, let us get on with the roundup:

The first one, as always, is the prolific blogger PJ with her sprouted moong and tomato gravy.

In Toronto, Canada, Janet made a No-Bake Peanut Butter Mousse with a Chocolate Magic Shell for an outdoor picnic with her boyfriend.

Lubna made efficient use of a fresh batch of kunduri to make dal and a stir fry. Check out her favorite way of eating this delicious vegetable.

Another entry from Toronto, Canada comes from whom else but Toriew Toronto? She made use of green banana peels and made a yummy chutney.

Anshu made some finger-licking papri chaat from scratch for a chaat party organized at her home.

In Italy, Cindy made some delectable eggplant rolls with a hearty humus like stuffing made with cannellini beans.

Denise loves to cook with lentils and legumes. It is evident in the three entrees she sent this month:  
Low fat black beanbrownies

All the way from Lagos, Nigeria, Lata posted about her childhood memory of roasted,salted peanuts.

Lail revived a forgotten past with these red lentils cooked with green mangoes. How can anything this colorful not taste good?

Heather at GirlieChef has been cooking Madhur Jaffery’s recipes for a while and this time she made Khatte Chole from the grand dame of Indian cooking’s repertoire.

Inspired by a recipe of her friend’s mom, Bala cooked a stew of butter beans and eggs, an unusual combination packed with protein.

A cook at heart, Manasi made a savory version of puran polis by stuffing parathas withspicy lentils.

Susan, the hostess and creater of MLLA sent in these delicious pancakes made with chickpea flour and fenugreek leaves. That is a pancake worthy of breakfast, lunch or dinner.

And here is my contribution to this affair, a pumpkin sabzi made with a generous sprinkling of peanuts and sesame seeds.
I think I have covered everyone who sent in their entrees. If I missed you by some chance, please do let me know and I will add you accordingly.
Now for the winner of the Hurst Bean Box and the Everything Juicing Book. It is Manasi of A Cook at Heart. Congratulations lady. Susan will contact you shortly.

Here is the second part of Go Pumpkin Go. For the first part, check out the pumpkinsabzi post.

Sher Khan was startled. Usually, the humans either pleaded with him or were so scared of him they started running for their lives. But this old woman was different. He decided to be polite and replied back, “Good morning to you too old woman. I am hungry. Are you ready to be my breakfast today?”

Oct 8, 2012

Go pumpkin go

I know I promised in my last post I will be back with some stories from India (check the bottom of the post for one of them). There is another one I have been working on which looks very promising. It is about a queen and an architect and secret passageways. But the story will have to wait while I attend my hosting duties for Susan’s MLLA-51.

The last date for sending in the entrees was three days ago and as the host I should have posted at least one if not a couple of legume recipes. As things go, I posted none. I also missed the deadline for Anita’s Mad Tea Party. Actually, I almost made it to her tea party but the kid fell sick. A doctor’s visit and some tests later we found out he had strep throat. He had to stay home for the better part of the week and though it was nice not to wake up at 6.30 AM to take him to school, I prefer him in school on weekdays. Unlike his mother, he enjoys the routine and predictability of the weekdays when he is in school. Nothing makes him happier than knowing what is in store for him for the day.
I try to keep a similar routine at home for him but things tend to get a bit loosey-goosey once in a while. He doesn’t seem to mind and I feel it is good for him not to follow a strict regimen all the time. He is just in first grade after all.

First grade has been a big transition for him though after the fun and easy kindergarten class. Last year, he got a one page weekly homework. This time around, there are weekly reading logs, math exercises and spelling tests to keep him occupied for the week. Did I mention, he also has after school activities four days a week? I, as always, am on chauffer duty after three in the afternoon.

Between picking him up from school, driving him to his play dates and assorted activities, I make dinner, usually a quick vegetable stir fry. Yes, we are not big on elaborate meals. A sabzi, some roti and a salad suffice us on weekdays.
This quick pumpkin sabzi is a staple during fall. In India, this preparation is usually reserved for fasting days and the sabzi is eaten without any bread or rice. We prefer it with rotis or a bajra bhakri and another sabzi or some cooked dal on the side. Sometimes, a koshimbeer of tomato and onions substitutes for a salad.

Sep 4, 2012

Homecoming and MLLA - 51

The last time I hosted Susan’s very popular monthly event MLLA, World Cup cricket was on and I was blogging while watching the finals. India won that the world cup that day and my seat on the sofa henceforth has been reserved for all cricket finals as a good luck charm (!?). This time around, no such momentous event is on except the kid has started first grade. It is another reminder of how fast time is flying and the exponential speed with which he is growing.

This year has been an especially important year for him. Not only did he graduate KG but he got to experience India at its best for two whole months. He played and bonded with his cousins, marvelled at finding out the numerous uncles and aunts and distant relatives he has and enjoyed getting pampered by two sets of grandparents. He loved the overnight train journeys to different cities and riding by rickshaws and local buses. When on the road, he loved the freedom of not having to strap himself in a car seat and vicariously drank in the colorful street scenes from the inside of the car window. He couldn’t stop pointing out the dogs, cows, camels and bulls he could spot wherever we would go.
Not all was fun and games for him though. He did not get used to the wet bathrooms he had to use a bunch of times in the day or the humid heat of Ahmedabad or the crowds when we went exploring the market or the movies. He did pick up a smattering of Hindi though and we are trying our best to make sure he retains at least some of the language.

It has been almost a month since we came back from the two month vacation. I won’t use that excuse to justify my absence from this space. Though I must admit it is good to be back in my own kitchen, sleeping in my own bed and getting back to my normal routine. One of my goals for the rest of the year is to blog at least a couple of times a month if not more and Susan’s event could not have come at a better time, giving me the perfect reason to start penning “mundane observations” and collecting some legume recipes on the way.

So here I am announcing MLLA - 51.  If you have been blogging for a while you know what the rules are to send in your entrees. In case you don’t, here they are written down for you followed by the prizes you can win in the random drawing.

* Recipes of all courses and cultures are welcome and since this blog is not restricted to vegetarian or vegan cooking, non-vegetarian entrees are welcome as well. 
* Multiple recipes are permitted but limited to 10 per participant (although only one submission will be counted towards the random drawing/s).  I mean come on, the event is held every month. I am sure you can wait another month to post that “must-blog-legume” recipe.

* Recipes submitted to other events are also permitted, but other events might have different rules so please make sure you don’t get disqualified in your enthusiasm to send out entrees.
* Recipes from archives can be accepted ONLY if updated and reposted as current.

* Recipes from those who do not blog are accepted and make the participants eligible to win a prize.

* I do need to know the location of participants in order to know who qualifies to win both or one of the prizes (See # 3 below). (Hurst cannot ship outside the U.S.)  If you don’t want me to publish your location, I won’t. But please do let me know where you are located in order for me to slot you in the random drawing.
* Use of logo is optional but recommended.

* If you do send in photos, which I know most of you will, please try to resize it to the smallest dimension you can. It is less work for me which translates to a quicker roundup.

* Send in your entries by October 5th to jayawagle@gmail.com with MLLA - 51 in the subject line.

* I will try to post the round-up during the first week October give or take a few days.
* Please make sure to link your entry to this post and to Susan’s host line-up page. I will personally make sure each entry has been linked properly so make sure you do not forget this important rule.  

* Now, for those of you who are still in doubt about what constitutes a legume here is a quick rundown.
Legume:  Legumes include fresh or dried beans, lentils and pulses. I will also accept entries which use the edible pods that contain these seeds as well as derivative products like tofu, soyflour or besan. For the blogger who is not aware tamarind, fenugreek, carob, peanuts, etc. are among some of the other edible plants in the legume family which ARE included in the event. 

* I would like to emphasize that a spoonful or soupcon of a legume does not usually qualify. Depending on the kind of legume you use, I can make an exception but generally try to keep legumes as the main ingredient of the dish and not an auxiliary component. 
Now for the prizes for writing, photographing and linking those delicious legume recipes:

1.       TheEverything Juicing Book. This prize is offered by Susan without influence at her expense, and she will also absorb worldwide shipping charges.  F.T.C. Notice: Susan does not receive any compensation from Amazon.

2.       Hurst Bean Box - A case of six bags of the winner's choice of Hurst Bean products, suitable for every diet, sponsored by Hurst Bean. (Due to shipping restrictions, this prize can only be awarded if the winner is a U.S. resident.) F.T.C. Notice: In May 2010, Susan, at her request, received two Hurst Bean complimentary products which are not available for purchase in her local markets. Susan does not generally accept free products from Hurst Bean nor is she financially compensated by them.

3.       Drawing Structure - If the winner is a U.S. resident, she/he will be the recipient of both Prizes 1 and 2 above.  In the event that an international winner is drawn, a second drawing will be conducted from the U.S. pool of entrants to ensure that the Hurst Prize is awarded every month.  In these instances, the international winner will receive the book, and the U.S. winner will receive the Hurst Prize.

So get blogging and send in those entrees and stay tuned for some stories from India.

May 14, 2012

What I really want for Mother's day

I am the last one in my house to get up in the morning and I like it that way. I wake up to the iPhone alarm trilling, which has been set on snooze twice already, and the sounds of TV in the living room.  Yes, my son is already up and is snuggled in a blanket watching Arthur and his friends dealing with another day in school.  The spouse is straining adrak wali chai and all is well with the world. 

If you are thinking this is what I want for mother’s day it is not because this is how my day starts almost every morning.  Honest! It is perfect and I feel like it is mother’s day every morning.

Yesterday morning was no different. The child gave me a beautiful book he made in school, with the help of his wonderful teacher, Ms. H, in which he wrote that his mother works on a computer,  weighs 30lbs and is a siantist (scientist).
Three years younger too!
The spouse, who has turned vegetarian since my last post, bought me my favorite kababs and biryani on the way back from the temple. Evening was a simple but delicious vegetable sandwich made with crusty bread and layered and stuffed with kale butter, guacamole, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. I took a long shower and nobody raised an eyebrow or interrupted to ask me where the pepper mill was.  It was a blissful, relaxing day followed by another outstanding episode of Sherlock on PBS Masterpiece.

You may ask then, what more could I want for mother’s day.  And I will tell you what more I want on mother’s day or any other day of the year. The only reason I write this is because I read some posts on mother’s day which were about how grateful and thankful the moms were for their kids and husband horsing around, debating and talking loudly in the kitchen, and how that is enough for them.  Which is all fine and dandy but no mother is happy all the time with what goes on with her kids and her house.  So, just to set the record straight, I will not sugar coat what I want for mother’s day or any other day of the year. My list is not too long and I don’t think what I want is too much.  Raise your hand if you agree.

1.      For once, it would be nice if my kid cleaned up his toys and put them away before going to bed so I don’t have to stumble on them in the dark.  It would be even nicer if I didn’t have to remind him to clean up his toys for the hundredth time before he eventually “cleaned” the mess by shoving it all under the table or stuffing the whole lot in a big box and calling it “chore done”. (He did help me vacuum the carpet yesterday.)

2.      It would be nice not to have to pick up discarded T-shirts, shorts and undershirts from the living room couch, side tables and from the bottom of the bed. I don’t care if the bed is not made up perfectly, with hospital corners and such, but please can we all just pick up our discarded clothes and put them in the laundry basket.

3.      I would NOT like to be surprised on mother’s day or any other day, with flowers because the frugal desi in me balks at the exorbitant rate of flowers and how quickly they wilt and find their way to the compost bin or the trash can.  My kind of surprise would be to wake up to find a clean home, or to come home after spending two months in India to find the yard has been landscaped or the bedroom has been painted. In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to India soon and will be gone for two months.

4.      I am a sucker for meaningful gestures and every time he brings back a piece of cake, an interesting sandwich or salad from his cafeteria because he thinks I might like it, I am a happy woman. So, for mother’s day or any other day of the year, I would like for these simple gestures to continue.

5.      The last thing I want for mother’s day or any other day of the year is to not find empty milk cartons, empty berry containers and empty cereal boxes in the fridge and pantry respectively.

 UPDATE: After the kid went to bed yesterday, I cleaned up the mess of blocks, board game chips and a gazillion cars and trucks and put them away in their proper place.  I know it will all come out tomorrow and he will probably be too tired or too sleepy to clean it up once again.  I will grimace, muster up as much patience as I can and clean the mess once more.  Hopefully, when he is older and able to read this, he will make sure he cleans up his room, at least for mother’s day if not for every other day of the year. And please don’t tell me I will miss the days when the kids leave the toys strewn around, because I won’t.

Also, before you wonder, yes, I am grateful and thankful for the wonderful boy and the amazing man who enrich my life every day by acts of thoughtfulness and kindness.  But I would still want them to do one or all of the above, if not every day of the year, then at least on mother's day.

How was your mother’s day like and what would you really want on mother's day?

Feb 6, 2012

Of volcanos and vermicelli

It has been three weeks since my school started and I have managed to ease the class into my weekly schedule or rather into my weekend schedule.  It is only one Saturday class this semester, so the workload is much less and I have more time to blog (hence the three posts last month).
A friend asked me recently how I liked studying in my late 30s.  She looked surprised and a bit disappointed when I told her I actually enjoyed going to college.  Truth be told, I enjoy it more now than I did when I was younger.  I understand concepts much better, I like the open interaction with my teachers, I like that I am more informed and get to voice my opinions without fear of incurring disfavor of the teacher.  

The fact that I get to spend half a Saturday learning about plate tectonics, volcanos, rocks, minerals and fossils may sound boring to some.  But I was lucky enough to have a professor who knows all there is to know about the earth and all its layers (and still manage not to know how to text, not that that is important) and also manage to teach in a way that makes it enjoyable.
Of course, just because I enjoy sitting in class amidst igneous and metamorphic rocks, studying relative dating methods doesn’t mean I enjoy the food they dish out in the campus cafeteria.  So, I carry food with me, lots of it, to sustain me through Steno’s Laws and studying folds and faults of the Earth.  I usually eat an apple or a pear with some almonds for breakfast while jotting down lecture notes. 

During the mid-morning break, with the fruit digested and stomach rumbling, I reach for my lunch which usually consists of a couple of slices of crusty bread sandwiched with almond butter and pepper jack cheese, some potato chips and another piece of fruit.  On rare occasions, when I am better prepared, I cook quinoa or vermicelli (semolina pasta) with lots of vegetables the day before and it sustains me better than the bread and cheese sandwich.  Sometimes, I also add some peanuts to the mix, just because I like it, but it is totally upto you. 
There are no hard or fast rules for making this.  You can add just onions or add broccoli or potatoes if it suits your fancy.  It cooks in one pot and makes for a great lunch on weekdays when I don’t have any left overs from the night before.

Here’s how I make it:
Take about 2 cups of chopped veggies. I used zucchini, carrots, broccoli and onions.
Chop them into thin strands.
Set aside half a handful of frozen peas and corn, unless you have the luxury of fresh ones.

Toast 1/4 cup of semeiyan lightly and keep aside.
In a wide pan heat 1 tsp of oil.  Add a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  Wait for them to sizzle before adding the chopped vegetables.  Cook for about five minutes on medium heat adding a teaspoon of red chili powder and salt in between.

If you want to add peanuts, add them with the cumin and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the vegetables.  
Chop about 1/4 cups of tomato and add it to the veggies.  Cook till soft and pulpy before adding the vermicelli.

Gently mix with the cooking vegetables and roast for a few minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of water, adjust the salt (the water should be slightly salty), add a pinch of sugar and cook till the vermicelli gets plump and water is all used up.

Turn off the heat, garnish with chopped coriander if you wish.  I usually omit this step if pressed for time or too hungry to dig in. 
Enjoy hot off the stove or cold in your lunch box the next day.

What is your favorite lunch box preference?

Jan 30, 2012

For the price of two lattes

It brings tears to my eyes to know that people abandon their kids because of poverty.  It saddens me that I indulge my picky eater with foods of his choice when there are orphan girls grateful for two meals a day.  I am thankful every day to be there for my kid when he is sad, angry, hurt or just wants a hug.  As I hug my child at night and put him to sleep in his comfy bed, I remember that there are girls sleeping on thin mattresses laid out on the bare floor of a large hall with no one but each other’s company to comfort them.  

As I watch kids in my son’s cafeteria throw away uneaten apples, unopened juice and milk cartons and even sandwiches they brought from home, I think of the 108 girls sitting in orderly rows in the big hall of Vaidehi Ashram in Hyderabad, India.  They are waiting to be served a simple meal of rice and sambhar (a thin lentil soup with some vegetables thrown in) which they will finish without wasting a single grain of rice.  But not before they sing a hymn of thanks for the food they partake. 
 Lunch time

It is not very often that I am at a loss for words but this post turned out to be one of those that took the longest time to pen.  It is easy for me to complain about the sordid state of affairs, be it on blogger ethics or Facebook superficialities.  But there are times when I am thankful to have befriended some wonderful people on fb who, unlike me, decide to do something about a problem rather than complain.  Siri, of CookingwithSiri, is one such generous soul who always manages to amaze me with her positive, upbeat attitude.
Recently, she moved back to India and instead of complaining about the cultural shock that comes with moving from US to India, she got involved with Vaidehi Ashram, a refuge for orphaned and destitute girls.  She was so moved by what she saw and experienced there, she decided to help raise funds for these deserving girls and make their life a little bit better. 
Vaidehi Ashram

A week into the drive, she has already made significant progress with the fundraising.  But more is needed.  Besides, Siri has managed to score some awesome raffle prizes for you to go with each $10 raffle tickets.  Among the things you can win through the raffle, there is a Kindle, some awesome cookbooks from authors like David Lebovitz and Ammini Ramachandran, professional photo prints and kitchen gadgets to make your life easier.  For a complete list of raffle prizes offered, click on this link to Siri’s blog.  If the prizes don’t inspire you to donate, here is a little information on the Ashram to convince you to participate in a good cause.
The girls
Vaidehi Ashram for destitute girls houses some 108 girls (3 to 22 years) who are either orphans or who have been abandoned by their parents.  The ashram is managed by Mrs Suvathsala, who is fondly called Mataji (mother).  Along with some eager volunteers, she takes care of the girl’s upbringing, their education and vocational skills.  The girls are housed in the three big halls of the ashram where they all sleep communally with open cupboards on the walls reserved for their personal belongings.  
The stories of how these girls end up in the ashram are heart wrenching like the story of the youngest girl Samatha who was found wandering near a railway station with her baby sister.  She could have suffered a worst fate if some policemen hadn’t brought her to the ashram where she is in now in the company of girls who understand her plight and are able to give her emotional support and some semblance of normal life.  For more information, read the following two posts by Siri:

Sitting thousands of miles away in a quiet American suburb there is not much I or you can do except donate a few dollars and help spread the word.  Make that $10 you would otherwise spend on a lunch date or two cups of latte go to a worthy cause.  

Love their smiles
Here is how the fund drive works.
1. Buy a Raffle Ticket (or 2 or more)

Each raffle ticket is worth $10 (or Rs.500). You can increase your chances of winning the giveaway by buying more than 1 raffle ticket.

For Example, a donation of $20 will fetch you 2 raffle tickets which can be used to choose on any of the raffle prizes. You can use all your raffle tickets on one prize (in turn increasing the chances in the lucky draw) or on different prizes.

2. How to Buy the Raffle Ticket

Use the link below for making your payment. Once you click it, you will be directed to the fund drive and raffle page. Use the widget to make a payment via Paypal or credit.

Once the donation process is completed, please forward your payment confirmation message to info(dot)siri(at)gmail.com, clearly specifying the raffle prize you are interested in.

Within 24 hours, your name and contributed amount will be added to the ‘Fund Drive Supporters List’. If you want to stay anonymous, please let Siri know in advance. For any correspondence/questions/queries, use the comment section or the email address mentioned.

Fund Drive Supporter's List and the List of Raffle Prizes

Go on, make a difference in someone's life.

Jan 25, 2012

It is rant time on DSM

Well, what do you know? I kept my word and am on schedule for the fb rant thanks to the dark, wet, rainy morning we have today in the sunny state of Texas.  We are spoiled here with warm skies and 70o temperatures in December.  It puts us (at least me) in a foul mood when the skies are cloudy and the weather turns dull and wet.  Contrary to what Indian poets and imaginative types would have you believe, this desigirl does not share the romantic associations that are imparted to the rainy season of the Indian subcontinent.  For me, rains always bring about images of dusty roads turned to muddy mush, damp clothes, and dark homes lit in the middle of the day with yellow fluorescent bulbs.

So you will have to excuse me if I am not in the best of moods when it starts to rain even though my adopted country’s concrete and asphalt roads don’t get muddy and the only thing to fear while out and about is flash flooding.  There are no damp odors emanating from clothes or bedding. No traffic jams to navigate through, no potholes to jump over, not even open drains for the kid to float his paper boat in.  The only redeeming feature of the rainy season in India is the sweet, earthy smell that we fondly call gili mitti ki mahak (smell of wet dust).  But I am denied that in the land of concrete and grass lawns, perhaps because I prefer to stay indoors when it pours and curse and rant about the bounty of water falling outside my window.
This brings us to the fb rant that has been long time coming.  Over the years, I have added and then edited, deleted and hidden from view friends, bloggers, and relatives for various reasons some of which are listed below.  And on gloomy days like today, I still manage to get irritated because people constantly find new ways to up the ante. 
The game fan:  I played Lexulous, the fb version of scrabble, for a couple of months with a vengeance. I was hooked on it all the time.  So believe me when I say, I understand why you play Farmville, Mafia Wars and other assorted games.  Just don’t inflict your friends with imaginary acquisitions of sheeps, horses and planting of crops.  Go work on a farm instead of bragging about that fictional crop you harvested.  And please do not feel obligated to announce your general knowledge quiz score. That is just sad.

The “I have 400+ friends on fb dude and I don’t remember if we were friends before you unfriended me so I am sending you another friend request”:  Yes, we know you like ‘friending’ people for personal glory. I just won’t be the one that tips your friend count from 499 to 500.  

The You Tube linker:  We all love a good tune but not all of us have the time to listen to ten songs you post on your wall every other day.  Spare us your refined taste in music and stop cluttering our walls.

The quotable quotes person:  A long time ago, when I used to work in a small office, our bosses’ sanctimonious secretary used to send out thought of the day to the rest of us.  All we did with them was snicker behind her back and smiled politely at her when asked if we read it.  She never got the message but I hope you have. 

The religious, the political and the dietary fanatic:  I do not care what your religious, political or dietary preferences are.  Do not ask me to forward, subscribe or endorse your belief system by sharing them on my wall.  On the same note, I have blocked or hidden some of your posts if they contain graphic pictures, misleading photographs or poorly sourced articles intended to sway me in your direction.  It does not make me appreciate you or your cause. It just makes me think of you as a bully who deserves to be ignored.  You are entitled to post what you wish on your wall. I am entitled to complain about it and block it on my wall.

Cryptic word of the day:  If you have something to say, just say it. Don’t make people guess it by sighing on your wall (*sigh*), posting colon and two close ended brackets for a smile or a ‘Yay’.
The juvenile, delinquent language users:  My nephews, nieces and younger cousins in their teens substitute the word ‘da’ for ‘the’ and continue other sordid trangressions on the English language even when there is no word limit or messaging restriction on fb.  I wince and bear it because I realize they think it is cool and hip to write that way, they are young and they don’t know any better.  But there is no excuse if you are an adult who does not comprehend what the problem is when corrected.  

The ‘Like’ button err…. liker:  Yes, I know it is hard to comment on just about every post your 300+ friends post every day.  You do not have to show your presence by hitting the ‘like’ button every time, all the time.  To me that is just a shallow gesture to register your presence.  I would rather have your thoughtful comment once in a blue moon. That is not to say I do not hit the ‘like’ button occasionally. I do when I am in hurry or when words cannot express how much I liked that particular status.  
Kale in color.
That my friends, is my short list of things I have been complaining to my friends on fb for a while.  Since I was in danger of being unfriended by them, I decided to vent out on DSM and save the few friends I have left.  Do you have a rant about the social media you would like to share?  Feel free to do so in the comments below or write a post and let me know.  I will add your link to my post below. It feels good to let it all out.  I know I feel good, even though it is still a gloomy, wet day.  

Jan 19, 2012

New beginnings and all that humbug…

…is how I have decided to lead my first post in 2012.  As usual, I have started another year with nary a clue as to where it will lead me.  Last year saw me busy with my school and getting used to the routine of a kindergartner.  As a result, there was sporadic activity on DSM and my fiction writing suffered.  By the end of the year, I was off facebook and twitter, effectively abandoning my blog.
Start of the day.
Facebook and twitter are lifelines for a blogger, a channel for keeping in touch and interacting with blogger friends.  It can also be addicting and a major time suck.  More often than not, it is an outlet for the narcissist in all of us.  I found myself tiring of the minutiae of every day happenings on my wall and engaging in debates and discussions on controversial topics, from archaic practice of Karwa Chauth to the practicality of using steel plates and doing away with disposable ones.  As entertaining and fun it was to get into controversial subjects what put me off fb was the simpering, fawning platitudes some bloggers bestowed on each other.  And don’t even get me started on the frequent use of the ‘like’ button by some who will remain nameless! 
Tea and steamed rava idlis.
Finally, I had enough.  One sunny day in November I quit cold turkey.  No post announcing I am quitting, no response to friends and above all, no more jumping in controversial discussions or suffering smarmy, sycophantic comments.  It was a quite though a bit boring existence but hey, I made it up more than enough by reading a few books I had been meaning to pick up.
Way with words.

The first one was Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which had been on my reading list for the longest time and was our book club pick for December.  It is an entertaining read  about a stiff, retired British Majoy and his romance with a widowed Muslim shopkeeper of a quaint village. Author Helen Simonson brings the characters and the village to life in her first attempt at fiction.
Rushdie’s Satanic Verses is an epic in every sense of the word.  I have been a fan of his work since I read Luka and the Fire of Life last year. His style of magical realism makes for a very entertaining read if you know your mythology.   Norton Juster’s  Phantom Tollbooth left me wondering how I had gone through life without reading it.  Just to get out of the world of magic and into some tragedy, I decided to start reading up on Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and yes, it is a series of 13 unfortunate events that fall on three orphan siblings who somehow manage to survive every grim situation when lesser men would succumb to their fate and give up.  Hopefully, reviews for some of these books will be written shortly as well as a longer rant on Facebook practices that tick me off.  The later will probably come before the former.
For now, I am concentrating on learning the complexities of my DSLR that the better half got for me last month.  I have been shooting photos of food and family and boy, is it a big learning curve or what?  I had to open the obligatory flicker account to be able to get critiques and tips from fellow photographers who have had so much more experience and expertise in these matters.  Won’t you visit it too and give me your feedback?

In this year of presumed apocalypse, here’s to new beginnings, heartfelt rants and some good food, photographs and regular blog posts not to mention all the humbug that goes with it.

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